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In llSFniQFiani. 



IN MEMORIAM 



REMARKS 



ON THE 



LIFE AND CHARACTER 



General Samuel L. Williams, 



By his Nephew,!/ 
JOHN AUGUSTUS WILLIAMS, 

OF DAUGHTER'S COLLEGE, KY. 



DELIVERED BEFORE THE CHURCH OP CHRIST, AT SOMERSET, MONTGOMERY CO., KY., ON 
THE 20TH OF OCTOBER, 1872, AND PUBLISHED BY THE REQUEST OP MANY BRETHREN. 



CINCIN NAT I.- 
ROBERT CLARKE & CO. 

1S72. 



In lUBprnoriem. 



" The hoar\ head is a croivn of glory ^ if found in the luay of righteousness." — Prov. xvi. 3 I , 

I am here to-day, my brethren, not to preach a 
juneral discourse^ in the sense in which that phrase is 
sometimes used ; but to moralize, for your benefit and 
my own, upon the life and character of one who, as a 
citizen and neighbor and friend, lived long enough 
among us, and, surely, well enough, to leave behind 
him a name that may ^x\y point a moral. 

1 had the fortune, a few years ago, to stand here 
and meditate with you upon the life and character of 
another — of one who had lived and labored among 
you for many years as a servant of the Lord Jesus 
Christ and an advocate of the Ancient Gospel. To- 
day, we meet to remember one who was ever a Jonathan 
to your David; who supported him with his strong 
arm ; who battled with him against error ; and who 
finally confessediiWfat same Christ whose Church he had 
long befriended. 



SAMUEL L. WILLIAMS. 



You all remember the occasion, when, on the third 
Lord's day in October — this very day, now many years 
ago,— John Smith preached from this stand the funeral 
of that good woman. Aunt Fanny. It was on that day 
that our deceased brother and kinsman, having buried 
his wife, accepted Jesus as his Lord, and gave to his 
Savior a heart stricken with grief, and enriched by the 
experience of more than three score years and ten. 

What a scene was that for you, my older brethren ! 
Here, on this very spot, that veteran of the Cross, 
John Smith, embraced as a brother our veteran of the 
farm, the field, and the forum ! Their lives had started 
on different planes — they had long lived in different 
spheres — yet, converging ever, they met at last at the 
foot of the Cross, and found in each other more than 
the friendship of forty years — they found a common 
hope, a common faith, and a common love! Here 
they wept together, clasped, like little children, in each 
other's arms ! 

Let us rest to-day in the pleasant faith that they 
who were at. last thus united in their lives, in their death 
are not divided ! 

The untimely death of the young and hopeful 
always yields a profitable lesson : the departure of a 
mature man in the midst of his years from business 
and family and all the blessedness of the earthly life, is 
full of solemn instruction ; but the ripe dropping of 



IN MEMORIAM. 5 

an old man into the tomb, — the quiet demise of one 
who has lived out his full life, and outlived his genera- 
tion, — is the most profitable of all life's solemn lessons. 

We often see the bud, rich in promise, blighted by 
an early frost; we sometimes see the green tree, with 
all its pride of foliage and fruit, riven by the thunder- 
bolt, or uprooted by the tornado ; but we stand with a 
peculiar, mournful interest by the aged oak that, having 
seen a hundred springs blossom and fade around it, 
and having braved the fury of a hundred storms among 
its branches, yields at last to the influence of time, and 
drops amid the stillness of the forest — the memorial of 
an age that has passed away ! 

The subject of our address was an old rr.an, very 
venerable with years. He knew your fathers while yet 
they slept unconscious in their cradles ; he was a guest 
at your ancestral homes while yet the almost unbroken 
forest and matted cane closed round their humble but 
hospitable cabins. Yonder, on one spot, almost in 
sight, he lived for eighty years ! For a while he was a 
subject of George III, then a citizen of free America; 
first he was a resident of Virginia, then of Kentucky ; 
first of Fayette, then of Bourbon, then of Clark, then 
of Montgomery. Two governments claimed him — 
two states enrolled him — five counties taxed him ; and 
yet the old patriarch, during all these mutations in 
governmental affairs, changed but once the place of hi§ 



6 SAMUEL L. WILLIAMS. 

abode ! He lived and died, at more than four score 
years and ten, amid the veritable scenes of his child- 
hood ! 

How peculiar must have been the feelings with 
which the old man looked, in his last years, upon 
the generation that now gather around his tomb ! 
There is but little sympathy, brethren, between the 
present and the past; and he who lives beyond 
man's allotted time, finds himself at last a stranger 
among his kindred — a stranger in the very land of his 
birth! 

The young press forward in their race, and crowd 
upon the old, seemingly impatient for their departure ; 
while the old, losing their hold on the concerns of life, 
retire first from business, then from society, and, at 
last, from life itself, finding only in the tomb that 
dreamless respite from care which the toils of manv 
years always make so welcome. 

And so shall it soon be with us, my younger breth- 
ren ! We have taken in our hands all the business of 
life: church and state, commerce and agriculture, the 
civilization of the age — all are now in our hands; and 
we move on with the years, carrying these varied in- 
terests with us. But, in a few days, we will be over- 
taken by the pursuing host of a younger people ; we 
will resign our work into other hands; we will linger 
awhile as idle spectators of new scenes, in which we 



IN MEMORIAM. y 

can take no part, and then, resting for a time in the 
caini of our firesides, find in welcome graves the end of 
life's fitful dream ! 

No man, permitted to live as long as our brother, 
can be said to have lived in vain. His life, contem- 
plated from a moral and religious point of view, is full 
of instruction. 

In him we saw, in all the strength of their matu- 
rity, some of those noble old virtues that have well 
nigh become obsolete with us. For Virtue, while it is 
ever the same in itself and in the sight of God, loses 
and regains her popularity according to the fluctuations 
of human tastes and interests. There are some virtues 
which we of this generation call old-fashioned ; there 
are some men that have outlived their times, whom we 
denominate men of the olden school. 

Such was our brother. Reared to manhood in the 
century that has gone by, he brought down and exem- 
plified to us some of the noblest virtues of the past. 

We have advanced in science; we have improved 
in art ; we have gone forward in the march of a ma- 
terial civilization; but it is a question whether we have 
not lost somewhat in virtue as we have gained in 
splendor. 



SAMUEL L. WILLIAMS. 



Our brother was frugal, without parsimony ; he 
was economical, without meanness. He saved, not to 
hoard, but to secure a competency ; and with that he 
was content. Too often our economy is a weakness, if 
not a vice; and our industry, instead of being health- 
ful and provident labor, is insane speculation, ever fired 
with the greed of gain. 

How seldom do we see a man of our day quietly 
reap the fruits of his earlier toils, and then sit down 
satisfied and content with a moderate income! Indus- 
try is bloated into enterprise; competency has over- 
leaped its limits, and the maxim of frugality is to gain 
what you can, and to hoard what you gain. 

How instructive in this regard is the life of one 
who, in the midst of a money-making and money- 
loving people, exemplified for us the simple, prudential 
virtues of a less avaricious age ! Would that the men 
of our time could exchange their ambition to be rich 
for this manly spirit of independence and content ! 
Greed for more than we can enjoy, is the idlest of 
all passions, and the parent of a whole progeny of 
follies. 



IN MEMORIAM, 



II. 

Another of the now decaying virtues which so dis- 
tinguished our fathers, was simplicity of life and man- 
ners. We are growing every year more and more arti- 
ficial, conventional, and ceremonious. I doubt, indeed, 
whether we could engraft upon our age the natural, 
disingenuous, and unaffected manners of the past. 
But surely we often lose in loveliness what we gain in 
ostentation. Our ambition is to appear — theirs was to 
be ; — and what they were, too, all around them knew. 
Now it is hard sometimes to know a neighbor. Men 
disguise themselves, and society has become a sort of 
masquerade. We try to impose, — to display, — to 
strike with appearances. We are gorgeous in apparel, 
sumptuous in table, elaborate in toilet, ceremonious In 
manner, and ambitious even In our hospitality. How 
striking is the contrast between all this, and the plain, 
the wholesome, the simple, the sincere, and the genu- 
ine, that characterized the manners of our good old 
fathers ! 

I do not condemn the culture and taste of modern 
times, nor lament the disappearance of what may have 
been harsh and rude in their manners or customs; but 
surely the taste of these times has so adulterated itself 



lO SAMUEL L. WILLIAMS. 

with pride, that we too often seek to adorn merely for 
display. 

III. 

Another sterling quality of the gentleman of the 
olden school, was a broad-minded, warm-hearted, and 
open-handed hospitality. That trait early distin- 
guished the citizens of our noble old Commonwealth, 
Kentucky was famed abroad, not only among her sis- 
ter States, but almost throughout the civilized world, 
for her cordial reception of the stranger, and for the 
genial fellowship of her citizens, — for their open doors, 
their broad tables, and their ample firesides. 

And in all this State, there was not a host or 
hostess, whose heart leaped with a more cordial welcome 
at the approach of friend or stranger than that of the 
dear old man in whose memory we meet to-day, and of 
the dear old woman whose memory is forever linked 
with his! All the resources of good cheer without, 
and all the fund of social pleasantry within, were ex- 
pended without stint, to make their house the home of 
their guest, whether he were rich or poor. 

But even this most beautiful of social virtues is 
growing obsolete with the change of times, and the in- 
troduction of other ideas and customs. And, unless 
the expansive power of Christ's religion shall warm our 



IN MEMORIAM. 



hearts and broaden our charity, we fear that the old- 
fashioned hospitality of our fathers will cool and con- 
tract into a selfish formalism or a heartless etiquette. 

Death is rapidly taking from us our old men and 
women. You may not, my young friends, miss their 
personal presence, for they were almost lost to your 
society ; but we, their successors and children, may yet 
lose the generous influence of their lives and virtues. 
Let us hope, however, for better things. Let us cher- 
ish their memory, and meditate on their lives ; let us 
emulate their example, and preserve in ourselves the 
manly and womanly graces that adorned their characters. 



IV. 

Again, how rare, in this wrangling and unstable 
generation, is that noble old virtue — strict probity, and 
stern, inflexible integrity of character ! I do not mean 
simple veracity, or mere truthfulness of utterance ; but 
that more comprehensive truthfulness that glorifies the 
whole man. I mean sincerity of profession, fidelity to 
principle, and a sacred regard for every promise and 
plighted word. 1 mean consistency of life and har- 
mony of character. In a word, I mean that true and 
lofty lionor^ which loathes the fdse, the pretentious, the 
meretricious, and the mean ; which scorns the petty de- 



12 SAMUEL L. WILLIAMS. 

vices of narrow policy, and which, in all the details of 
public and private life, — in adverse and in prosper- 
ous times, in calms and in storms, — renders a man 
absolutely trustworthy and safe. 

And how conspicuous did this cardinal virtue shine 
forth in the life of our venerable brother ! True to 
himself and to principle, he lived in resolute harmony 
with all that he professed. If faithfulness to any 
conviction threatened him with loss, he hastened to 
meet, rather than to avert, the consequences. If friends 
threatened to turn from him, he let them go, but never 
without some tender emotion. If danger, like an 
armed angel, stood in his pathway, to arrest or to divert 
his course, he went forward still, without concern or 
alarm. If, in fidelity to truth, he must give up party 
and all the patronage and honors of party, and stand 
alone, or in honest alliance with former enemies, he 
never hesitated to abandon party and preserve his integ- 
rity and self-respect. 

We must lament, however, the seeming decadence, 
in our times, of this fundamental element of true man- 
hood. It may be, fellow-citizens, that in a popular 
government like ours, political corruption, bred from 
the ambition of small men, is unavoidable ; that the 
social purity is corrupted by the strategy and finesse of 
political rings ; and that the disastrous consequences, 



IN MEMORIAM. I3 

extending to all spheres of life, infect, at last, the char- 
acter of a whole people. 

Be the cause what it may, we have to regret that 
truth in high places, and too often in the humbler 
walks of life, — truth as the distinguishing virtue of a 
generation — shines not with that simple, unobscured 
splendor that was the glory of the age that has departed. 
We feel to-day, with a peculiar force, the truth of 
David's declaration : 

'* It is better to trust in the Lord than to put con- 
fidence i-n man ; 

" It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confi- 
dence in princes." 

In commercial dealings, in friendships, in declara- 
tions, in professions, in offices of trust, in the most 
sacred functions of fiduciary service, how often do we 
say, or hear it said. We know not in whom to trust, what 
to believe, or what to expect ! The times change, and 
we change with them ; the wind veers, and we veer with 
it ; the current eddies, or drives, or stands, and men, 
without fixedness of principle or the sublime constancy 
of truth, whirl or rush, pause or go back on themselves, 
with all the varying currents of petty incident or petty 
interest. 

But I believe, my brethren, with you, that Truth 
in all her beautiful phases, whether as probity of char- 
acter, or as the wisdom that comes from above, will be 



14 SAMUEL L. WILLIAMS. 

again unveiled to our vision ; that men will again hold, 
as they have held in a less artificial age, that to be true 
to self, to man, and to God, is the only foundation of 
an honorable and virtuous manhood. 



But if there was one trait of the olden character 
that distinguished our brother more than another, it was 
his moral courage — his readiness to expose himself to per- 
sonal danger, and to every form and degree of self- 
sacrifice, in the defense or maintenance of a righteous 
cause. 

There are two kinds of heroes in this world. Some 
men are bold and reckless of life in the pursuit of a 
selfish end— in the hunt for wealth, or in the chase for 
fame. Avarice has emboldened men to deeds of self- 
denial and daring worthy of a nobler passion. Ambi- 
tion has made heroes on the land and on the sea. These 
lower principles have peopled the earth with giants, and 
gilded the pages of history with an attractive but illusive 
splendor. 

But the moral hero is of a nobler stock. He is 
brave for the right ; he gives up wealth and fame, and 
life, too, if needs be, for the truth's sake. Whether on 



IN MEMORIAM. I5 

the tented field, or in the grave assembly, or in the 
ordinary walks of men, he fights, and talks, and works, 
not to build up self, but unselfishly to build up a cause. 

The striking exemplifications of this sort of 
courage, to be found in the life of our brother, are 
numerous — too numerous, in fact, to mention. I 
might refer to many passages during his seventeen years 
of civil life in the legislative halls of the State; I might 
cite you to unrecorded deeds and sufferings amid the 
scenes of the second war with England ; to the toil- 
some and bloody campaign of Winchester, in the 
Northwest, and to the horrible scenes of Raisin and 
Fort Maiden. I might cite you to many an incident il- 
lustrative of his prowess, like that related recently by one 
of his old soldiers, — how that, when, on a certain occa- 
sion, at the head of a detachment, having discovered the 
enemy in a strong inclosure, he rushed forward alone, 
regardless of their superior number and their position, 
and tearing away the palisades, leaped in at the breach, 
exclaiming, " Come on, my men !" — sublimely cour- 
ageous toward the foe, and sublimely trustful in the 
courage of his men. 

But I choose to pass by all these reminiscences of 
his civil and military life, and, as illustrative of his 
moral courage, cite you to his conduct, when John 
Smith, in a nobler strife than that with England, burst 
the bands of an ecclesiastical tyranny, and, amid ridi- 



l6 SAMUEL L. WILLIAMS. 

cule and scorn, and persecution, declared that the chil- 
dren of God were free, that the Word was every man's 
creed, and the right to interpret that Word for himself 
was inherent and inalienable. 

Do you remember, my old brethren, the first mut- 
terings of that storm, which was brewed right here in 
your very midst, and which, in a few years, swept over 
the State with a rage that uprooted churches, distracted 
society, and almost kindled the torch of ecclesiastical 
war? It cost much in that day to belong to Smith's 
forlorn hope. He that would God speed the despised 
heretic, must make up his mind to suffer all that big- 
otry could inflict. Whether professing religion or not, 
he must suffer proscription, the loss of friends, of busi- 
ness, and of reputation. 

Gen. Samuel L. Williams was raised a Calvinist 
of the strictest sect. All his religious ideas were formed, 
and his entire religious character was molded, by the 
dogmas of that extraordinary creed as they were then 
expounded. Yet when he grew to manhood, and began, 
with his strong, natural sense, to think for himself, he 
rejected the doctrine of the day as inconsistent with the 
Divine character, and incompatible with his ideas of 
justice and goodness. 

Consequently, he never sought religion as it was 
then presented, nor did he ever w'nh to seek it. It was 
to him a thing without truth and attractiveness. He 



IN MEMORIAM. I y 

was therefore an opponent of the strict dogma of the 
times; but he was always an admirer of the religion of 
Jesus as it was taught in his Word and exemplified in 
his wondrously beautiful life. 

When John Smith began to preach the ancient 
gospel and to teach Christianity among you, General 
Williams heard and approved. From that day, 
though not for some time afterward obedient to the 
faith, he became its advocate. He stepped forth from 
the ranks of a popular orthodoxy, and stood by the 
side of him who was already covered with contumely 
and sneers. He gave up friendships ; he threw busi- 
ness and office and reputation into the scale; and he re- 
solved to stand by his bold and honest friend, though 
they should perish together. 

He gave to Smith all the support that he could. 
No man ventured to speak a word against him in the 
hearing of his friend. He gave to him, in personal 
danger, his strong arm; in pecuniary straits, his purse; 
and at all times his influence and entire support ; and 
that, too, when it was infamous, socially and religiously, 
to befriend such a man. 

This was courage, my brethren, moral courage, 
almost sublime. The success of the cause we love is, 
in this section of the State at least, more indebted to 
the old man, whom we remember to-day, than to any 
other that had as yet made no profession of religion. 



l8 SAMUEL L. WILLIAMS. 

But, it may be asked, are not all these virtues, 
which we have predicated of the old Kentucky gentleman, 
equally the characteristics of a Christian gentleman? 
Most assuredly they are. Yet it is equally true that 
one may have all these and not be a Christian. It is 
true that all these graces are the fruits of Christianity, 
but Christ is not always acknowledged as the Vine 
that produces them. The sun shines, and thousands of 
things put on beauty and sweetness which see not the 
sun. They are glorified by a reflected but unacknowl- 
edged light. And so Christ shines upon the world. 
Some receive the influence of his life consciously 
and gratefully ; others receive that influence indirectly 
and unconsciously. They have light only as it is re- 
flected from parental example, or national institutions, 
or civil legislation. They erroneously ascribe to civil- 
ization or to education the light which comes only from 
the Christ. Hence there is in the world an unconscious 
Christianity, or morality rather, as well as a true Chris- 
tianity that confesses and honors the Christ. 

The virtues that so nobly adorned our fathers 
were, indeed, the fruits of that truth which began to 
shine when the Sun of Righteousness first arose with 
healing in his beams. But those good men did not al- 
ways feel or acknowledge their indebtedness to Christ. 
They blindly or arrogantly claimed all their goodness as 
their own. 



IN MEMORIAM. I9 

It is in this very respect that the Christian is dis- 
tinguished from the upright, moral man of our times. 
The one arrogates, the other believes ; the one trusts in 
himself, the other in Christ; the one says, " I can do all 
things," the other says, " Not 1, but the Christ in me ;" 
the one indulges in self-praise for his many virtues, the 
other ascribes all praise to God the Father, who re- 
deemed him from ignorance and sin through Jesus 
Christ, the Immanuel. 

We would err, therefore, were we to claim that be- 
cause our venerable brother was, in his earlier life, an up- 
right and honorable man ; because he was frugal in 
habit and contented in disposition ; because he was a 
trustworthy and patriotic citizen, a brave and humane 
soldier, a hospitable neighbor, and truly courageous; — 
that because he was distinguished by all these excellen- 
cies of character, therefore he was a Christian. We 
have not so learned the Christ. 



VII. 

And this brings us to the consideration of another 
phase of his life, from which we may derive the most 
important lesson that he has left behind, and by which 
he has bequeathed the richest of legacies to his children 
and his children's children. 



20 SAMUEL L. WILLIAMS. 

While living in the habitual practice of all the vir- 
tues that define a noble man, he was not at peace with 
himself. There was an undefined and restless want that 
he long tried in vain to satisfy. If man's highest hap- 
piness can be found in a thrifty, healthy family, the 
father was blessed ; if it can be found in a faithful, 
affectionate and competent helpmeet the husband was 
truly blessed; if it be found in a prosperous business 
and a sufficiency of this world's goods, he had all that 
heart could crave ; if, in the patriotic service of his 
country, in field or in council, and in a country's grati- 
tude, he could ask for no more : yet he had all these 
things, and was still unsatisfied. He tried every form 
of life's honorable experience; he grew gray in the vain 
attempt to satisfy an immortal spirit with the pleasures 
and honors and service of a life that is earthly and 
brief; and, having tasted every worldly cup, he turned 
at last to that Fountain of which, if a man drink, he 
shall never thirst again. 

Dear old man ! we thank thee for all thy sterling 
virtues ; for thine inflexible truth, thy generous hospi- 
tality, thv moral courage, thy simple-hearted content, 
thy public service, and thy perfect trustworthiness in 
all the relations of life : but we thank thee most — and 
we gratefully bless thee this day — that thou hast taught 
us, by thine own experience and thy last best example, 



IN MEMORIAM, 21 

that true honor and peace can be found only in the ac- 
knowledgment and loving service of the " Lamb that 
taketh away the sin of the world !" 

Let this suffice! Thou hast not lived thy long 
and wearisome life in vain, if thou hast taught us, the 
children of another generation, this lesson: That faith 
in Jesus is the only victory and peace, the only crown 
of excellency to a virtuous manhood, and the only hope 
of glory in the life to come. 

And may our Heavenly Father impress the lesson 
of the hour upon the hearts of all ! May he bless it 
to you, my old brethren, who can not long stay behind. 
This world is now of little worth to you. You have 
drunk the cup of the earthly life, and only the dregs are 
left. Friends have dropped away from you, — love's 
charmed circle has been broken again and again, — and 
now, I know, you feel your loneliness. In vain you 
try to catch the spirit of the on-coming age. Your 
voyage here is over ; you must cast your anchor in the 
seas beyond. Let go, then, your heart's hold on the 
life that is, and seize the eternal world that dawns upon 
you. Rest in Christ, and, soon, sweet will be your 
sleep ; and your awakening will be to a life that never 
ends, — to a youth that knows no age, — to a bliss that 
is without alloy, — and to a glory that is unfading and 
eternal in the heavens ! 



22 SAMUEL L. WILLIAMS. 

And may all the virtues of a father's character 
descend and abide on you, my young kinsmen, as the 
richest portion of your patrimony ! Your father be- 
queathed to you strong minds and strong bodies ; ac- 
cept, also, the best legacy that a father can leave to his 
children, — the example of a soul strong in manly pur- 
pose, true to principle, pure in honor, but resting, at 
last, like a trustful child, in the blessedness of Jesus' 
love. 

Of a numerous and robust family, only one* is 
left! And more than three score years and ten have 
wasted his vigor and bent his form. In a few years, at 
most, he, too, will fiill asleep, and be gathered to his 
fathers ! It is hard for us, my young brethren, to enter 
into full sympathy with such a man, — left alone in the 
world, the solitary representative of a large family ; — 
father, mother, brothers, sisters, and all the compan- 
ions and friends of his early life, gone to their graves ! 

May our Heavenly Father give to him, daily, 
glimpses of the beautiful hereafter, — foretastes of the 
good things to come, — strength to bear his loneliness, 
and patience to await his change ! 

The Smiths, the Williamses, the Hathaways, the 
Stoners, the Aliens, the Joneses, the Lanes, the Brutons, 
the McDanolds, the Carringtons, the Jamesons, the 



■Dr. Ch.irU- v.. Williams 



IN M E M O R I A M . 



23 



Highlands, the Phelpses, and others, — all are gone, or 
soon must go ! And what will then become of 
Somerset, dear old Somerset? Where will then be 
her sweet old songs, her cordial fellowship, her simple 
worship, and her burning zeal ? 

Brethren of Somerset ! you are the eldest daughter 
of the Reformation. Awake ! arise ! and may God 
help you to maintain here the doctrine and practice of 
the early saints, and to be always, as you have been, 
the salt of the earth, and the light of the world ! 
Amen. 



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